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May 24, 2019 10:30 AM, EDT

Competition Heats Up in Trailer-Tracking Market

Truck-Lite trailer technology Several industry suppliers, including Truck-Lite, have jumped into the increasingly crowded trailer-technology business in recent years. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

As the capabilities of onboard sensors and trailer-tracking systems have expanded, so has the level of competition in this segment of the trucking technology market.

Several new competitors have jumped into the trailer-monitoring business in recent years, including industry suppliers Truck-Lite, Phillips Industries and Peterson Manufacturing Co., as well as mobile device provider BlackBerry.

At the same time, more established players such as SkyBitz, Spireon, I.D. Systems and Orbcomm have been updating their asset-tracking product lines in recent years.

Truck-Lite, a major supplier of commercial vehicle lighting, entered the trailer-tracking sector with its Road Ready system.

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The company has been involved in data communications since the late 1990s, so it was “a natural evolution for Truck-Lite to enter into the arena of wireless communication of information and solutions for our customers, helping them with asset management and trailer maintenance,” said Rob Richard, general manager of the Road Ready division.

Trailers are becoming increasingly sophisticated as equipment manufacturers introduce smart components that enable fleets to better monitor and maintain their assets.

“In order to adapt these devices to their fleets and use the data they generate to solve problems and reduce costs, users will need to rely on an agnostic telematics network that can consolidate and present data from all of the trailer’s smart equipment,” Richard said.

Road Ready’s SmartBridge Integrator is designed to collect data from any component and integrate it with a fleet’s transportation management system to support better business decisions through predictive and preventive maintenance.

Phillips decided to enter the trailer-monitoring sector after identifying digitization and the Internet of Things as key “change agents” in the trucking industry, said Gerry Mead, executive director of innovation at the company.

He said the company drew on its expertise in electrical harnesses and its industry relationships to launch its Phillips Connect Technologies division, which has introduced the TrailerNet, ChassisNet and ContainerNet asset-tracking systems.

These systems connect with sensors and smart components and deliver key information to fleet managers through a single connection.

Today, consumers increasingly expect products to be delivered to their doorsteps within shorter time windows than ever before.

“The need for the information required to ensure this happens will drive adoption rates of smarter equipment and systems,” Mead said. “Look for companies to develop smarter products as fleets search for solutions to industry issues. If a product can be sensed, it will be tracked at some point in time.”

Mead cited predictions that the telematics market will triple in size by 2025.

Peterson, a supplier of safety lighting, wiring harnesses and other safety-related products, introduced its Peterson Pulse intelligent trailer system last year. The system tracks the status of various trailer components and metrics, including lights, anti-lock brakes, tire pressure and cargo temperature, and sends alerts to drivers and fleet managers when necessary.

BlackBerry is another recent entrant in the trailer-tracking market. The company introduced its BlackBerry Radar asset-tracking system for trailers and shipping containers in 2016.